Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in North Dakota
To work as a nurse in North Dakota, you first need to become a registered nurse (RN). The only way to obtain an RN license is by completing an approved nursing program and passing the NCLEX-RN exam.
Students have two options to become NCLEX eligible: an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). However, career outcomes for each option differ. RNs tend to earn much higher wages if they complete a BSN, and some hospitals are moving toward only hiring BSN-holding RNs.
Fortunately, those who complete an ADN still have options. Plenty of ND schools offer RN-BSN programs, some of which are entirely online. No matter what level of education you plan on earning, North Dakota gives you plenty of nursing school options.
This is a panel-reviewed selection based on a number of factors including,
- NCLEX pass rate
- Acceptance rate, when available
- Only ACEN or CCNE accredited schools are eligible
Our selection panel includes 4 Registered Nurses with over 55 years of combined nursing experience and 7 nursing degrees.
- Tracy Everhart, MSN, RN, CNS
- Tyler Faust, MSN, RN
- Kathleen Gaines, BSN, RN, BA, CBC
- Leah Helmbrecht, BSN, RN
Because nursing careers take different forms, the top 10 North Dakota nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.
Top 10 Nursing Schools in North Dakota
Annual Tuition: $19,074 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 94.83%
Based in Bismarck, the University of Mary is a private school founded in Christian beliefs, though students come from all types of backgrounds. Known for being an affordable private school, the University of Mary provides prospective nursing students with a cheap, quality nursing degree. The traditional BSN even allows for some students to receive their senior year tuition-free. According to the North Dakota Board of Nursing's 2018 report, the University of Mary enrolls well under its capacity, and of the 58 applicants in 2018, 52 were accepted. Other options include an online RN-BSN and an accelerated, second-degree BSN.
Annual In-State Tuition: $10,927| Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $13,757 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 92.82%
North Dakota State University ranks among the top 100 universities in the nation for various fields, and the public school offers affordable tuition rates to all students. NDSU is also home to the biggest nursing school in North Dakota, admitting 222 students into the traditional BSN in 2018. The BSN has a standard admission and direct admission option, and students can complete their clinical work at either the Bismarck or Fargo campus. Admission into the BSN is tough though, as 395 students applied for basic admission. Other degrees include an online RN-BSN and a BSN-Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
Annual In-State Tuition: $11,685 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $16,681 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 97.58%
Founded before North Dakota became a state, the University of North Dakota is a piece of local history. Today, the university enrolls over 13,500 students and has an average class size of just 24. Students interested in nursing have several options. The main option is a traditional BSN that regularly sees almost every student pass the NCLEX. Current RNs can enroll in the RN-BSN, and graduate students have plenty of Master of Science in nNrsing (MSN), DNP, and Ph.D. options. UND also enrolled fewer students than capable in 2018, so new students could have an easier time getting into this program than others.
Annual Tuition: $23,498 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 86.11%
Founded in 1883, the University of Jamestown is a private liberal arts university. The university doesn't have many areas of study, though nursing is one of the school's focuses. The BSN has two options for entry: direct or sophomore. Direct entry allows recent high school grads to be admitted into the program before starting their freshman year, while the sophomore entry gives students one more year to improve their applications. While the NCLEX pass rate in 2018 was lower than those reported by other schools, the University of Jamestown boasts a 98% job placement rate for graduates.
Annual In-State Tuition: $7,049 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $11,394 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A
Created to give students an affordable and accessible education that leads to high-growth jobs, Mayville State University offers degrees that advance careers. As a result, students can't select a pre-nursing BSN. Instead, students enroll in either the RN-BSN or the pre-nursing LPN, RN program. The RN-BSN is available entirely online and takes as little as one year to complete. MSU may not offer a traditional path to a BSN, but students can take steps toward a BSN while working as a nurse.
Annual In-State Tuition: $7,782 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $11,044 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%
Dickinson State University has found success as a primarily online school, extending education to students across the nation. DSU also offers low tuition rates that scale depending on the student's location. Despite focusing heavily on online education, DSU does offer an on-campus traditional BSN. Designed for both new students and those with an RN, the BSN has great outcomes with every student in 2018 passing the NCLEX on their first try. Graduates also have a 100% job placement rate within 10 months of completing the program.
Annual Tuition: $7,592 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.67%
Minot State University may be a public school, but that doesn't stop it from extending in-state tuition to all students. So, regardless of where you live, you get access to an affordable education. Affordability is only part of the reason students choose Minot State's Department of Nursing. Undergraduate students have two options: an online RN-BSN and a pre-licensure BSN. The pre-licensure BSN is a four-year program that routinely prepares students to take and pass the NCLEX. Like other schools in North Dakota, Minot State also enrolls fewer nursing students than they're able to, so students with strong applications have a good chance of getting accepted.
Annual In-State Tuition: $4,159 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $6,710 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%
With roughly 4,000 students, Bismarck State College is the third-largest school in the North Dakota University System. The small school size allows BSC to keep class sizes to an average of just 14 students. Anyone interested in nursing has one option: the 1+1 ADN. This program is broken down into two years. The first year culminates with a Practical Nurse Certificate and the second year prepares students to pass the NCLEX-RN. This unique program also lets students work as Practical Nurses while still in the program. This 1+1 ADN is available at six different campuses.
Annual Tuition: $3,778 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 93.94%
The low in-state tuition charged by Lake Region State College is extended to all students, so this is already an incredibly affordable way to become an RN. Unfortunately, LSRC doesn't offer a BSN; however, there is an ADN program that leads to RN licensure. Similar to Bismarck State College's 1+1 ADN, LRSC first has students complete an 11-month Licensed Practical Nurse program followed by a nine-month ADN. LSRC advises applicants waiting to get approved to complete several required courses before admission to speed up the degree.
Annual Tuition: $4,712 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 90.91%
North Dakota State College of Science is one of the oldest two-year institutions in the nation. As a two-year school, NDSCS doesn't offer a BSN. Instead, nursing students would enroll in the ASN degree which leads to RN licensure. However, students must first become Licensed Practical Nurses which is doable through NDSCS. While the Practical Nurse program and RN program are technically separate, they essentially work as a 1+1 ADN, similar to other options in North Dakota.
4 Key Factors That Affect Nursing School Tuition
Keep in mind that colleges and universities reserve the right to change tuition rates at any time. The yearly tuition rates listed here will vary for each student depending on various factors including,
- Transfer credits
- Completed competency exams
- Amount of credits taken per year
- Financial aid awards
Check with the specific school for current tuition rates.
North Dakota Nurse Salary and Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),
- North Dakota nurses earn an annual mean wage of $66,290, which is below the national average.
- North Dakota employs 9,750 RNs, a higher per-capita rate than most states.
The BLS reports that North Dakota nurses earn less than the national mean salary of $77,460. However, ND nurses do earn more than those in South Dakota, and North Dakota ranks among the most affordable states in the nation.
North Dakota is a high employer of RNs. The BLS reported that North Dakota employs 23.07 RNs for every 1,000 workers, well above the national average of less than 20.
Where you work in North Dakota also influences your pay and employability. For example, the Fargo area pays a mean salary of $68,110 and employs 30.47 nurses for every 1,000 workers, both higher than the state average.
Next Steps for Picking a Nursing Program in North Dakota
After you've reviewed some of the top nursing schools in North Dakota, you should create a shortlist of schools you'd like to attend. You don't have to commit to anything right now, so you should include multiple schools.
Here are the next steps broken down:
Contact each school’s admissions offices. You can learn more about a school and its admission requirements by contacting the admissions office. If your application isn't perfect yet, the admissions office might give you tips to improve your application.
Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. Nursing schools have their own set of admission requirements in addition to those set by the college or university. Get in touch early to see what you need to do to become nursing school eligible.
Submit your application(s). After you put the finishing touch on your applications, the final step is to send them out! Make sure you're sending in applications before the application deadline!
Common application requirements include:
- High school transcript (GPA)
- ACT and/or SAT scores
- College entrance essay(s)
- Letter(s) of recommendation
Important Considerations When Comparing Schools
Once you begin receiving acceptance letters from colleges and universities, you have one final decision to make: which school you're going to attend. This is a big decision, and it's worth spending time making sure you're picking the best school for your situation.
Factors to consider include:
- Annual tuition/nursing program cost
- Financial aid, scholarships, and grants offered
- Cost of living on-campus or in the area
- Distance from home
- Public vs Private (public schools offer in-state tuition)
- School and nursing program acceptance rate
- Length and type of program
- Program outcomes (NCLEX pass rate and job placement)
- Accreditation (regional and programmatic)
Why You Should Care About a Nursing Program’s Accreditation
When a school or program is accredited, it means that the educational quality meets the rigorous standards set by a government-backed institution. In North Dakota, make sure any college you apply to is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Also, only apply to nursing programs that have programmatic accreditation.
The two nursing accreditation organizations to look for are
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
- Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
If you earn a degree from an unaccredited school, you may have trouble securing federal financial aid and finding work as a nurse after graduation.
Getting a License in North Dakota
As long as you complete an approved nursing program in North Dakota, you should be prepared to become an RN. Once you become an RN in North Dakota, you'll also be able to easily gain a multi-state license for most other states thanks to the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC) -- just another reason why North Dakota is an excellent place to earn an RN license!
To get a license in North Dakota, you'll need to:
- Study at a nursing school approved by the North Dakota Board of Nursing
- Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
- Pay an application and criminal background check fee
- Apply through the North Dakota Board of Nursing
North Dakota has a great selection of high-quality and affordable nursing schools. Whether students choose to get an ADN or BSN, they'll be prepared to take and pass the NCLEX and become RNs. Once they begin working, they can find a well-paying nursing job in an affordable area -- or, they can take advantage of North Dakota's eNLC membership and gain a multi-state license to work in another eNLC member state.